Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me

So I’ve been tagged for this “meme” blog by three of my fellow bloggers, Errin Gregory in Just A Thought , Heidi Hass Gable in Learning Conversations and Cindy Martin at the Blog Junkie. Most of you are already familiar with the drill, but in case you’re not, the idea is that I post seven things that readers wouldn’t know about me unless they read this blog. When I finish I tag seven more people.  This “game” has lead me to expand my network as I’ve stumbed across other who have written and then followed their tags.  I’ve loved the blogging journeys but have been slow to get this posted because I don’t believe in assigning homework as Dave Truss calls it and so after reading his blog decided to tag my seven (or more) this way: If you haven’t yet been tagged and would like to “play”, please tag yourself by adding a comment here linking to your blog. I’d love to read your list. You should also tag your blog post with the tag “meme”.

So, seven things:

1. I love animals but I live in pet free zone: When our last pet, a beautiful little Siamese cat, was taken by a coyote four years ago my husband declared our house a “pet free zone.” While I’m not proud nor thrilled with this status, I have to be grateful for his years of patience with the cats, fish, frogs, guinea pigs, and hamsters that IChimney brought home over the years that we had small children.  I suspect the only pets he could really relate to and love were our big dog Anna and the last cat, Chimney.  The pet free status stands only because he’s agreed to travel frequently while it lasts.

2. I am a certified scuba diver: I almost managed to dive off of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia three summers ago, but the whole time we were North in Queensland the winds wouldn’t let up and the boats were barely heading out. I haven’t done a lot of scuba diving but I’ve passed the certification course twice. I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself as a diver mostly because I’m terrified of meeting up with something half my size under the water. I would however still like to dive where there are turtles.


3. I come from a large family: I have three brothers and three sisters all with very differing political views. I have one sister and one brother who are both United Church ministers. My political views, though not my religious views, are most in line with theirs in that I believe politics should be driven by social justice.  My family alone provides evidence for a greater need to find solutions to our expanding world population: two parents, seven children, 24 grandchildren, 21 greatgrandchildren so far and they are just getting started!  The oldest grandchild just turned 40, but the youngest is only 9. At least 10 are still below 30 and not yet married.

5. I love to write: My secret (until now) ambition is to write more. Writing is not something I spend a lot of time at but when I do write, I thoroughly enjoy myself.  I’d love to have the luxury of more time to play at writing creatively.  My young adult son is beginning to explore that realm for himself and I’m delighted and perhaps even a little envious.

6. The turtles in my banner are from a picture I took in Mexico: I have loved all the time I’ve spent in Mexico and look forward to much, much more in the future. In fact, I’m working on learning Spanish. I don’t think I’m particularly good at learning languages and so living in Latin America in the future is really the only hope for me ever really being able to speak the language.

7. My dream assignment would be to teach in a one-to-one laptop classroom with an alternative focus on global citizenship: Need I say more?  If you’d like to hire me to give it a try, just let me know!

Wishing you a very green white Christmas?

I look out my kitchen window at our cherry tree all decked out in snow.  It will be a beautiful white Christmas this year, something that doesn’t happen often in Vancouver.

Yet now more than ever I’m wanting this holiday season to be a green one. While I truly love this time of year, the warm feeling that comes from the smell of pine trees and hot apple cider clashes bitterly with the sense of consumerism and waste that we indulge in.  So the email greeting I received last year with a link to the Story of Stuff really stuck with me.  (It is very worth watching if you haven’t yet seen it.)

Now with the added awareness of the danger of “stuff”, I struggle with the demands from my children and the media messages telling us to save the economy and shop! Perhaps we really just need a new economy, but how to get there? (Have you seen Affluenza?)

I don’t have the answers but still I’m proud of the changes I’ve made over the past year. In my family we buy fewer, more consumable presents. I’m striving to buy more organic and to cook more natural and wholesome foods. After watching The Disappearing Male on CBC’s doc zone recently I’m paying even more attention to the chemicals I buy. I’ve taken to using a mix of cycling and transit regularly especially on the days that I just go to and from the university. I’ve got the Teaching and Learning for Global Perspectives diploma program off the ground and I’ve accepted a volunteer role as a Sustainability Ambassador at Simon Fraser University.  Clearly not enough as yet, but I’m making progress.

I tell you all this not to say “wow, look at me!” but rather to put the question out there to all of us, so what are we each doing to sustain life on our planet? What more will we, can we do this year?

I still have a long way to go, but I decided my next step would be to write this blog and challenge each of my readers and friends to do what you can to make this holiday season and the upcoming year be a step towards a more sustainable future for us all.

May you and your family truly enjoy the season!


I’ve taken a break from writing/posting over the past few months. There was just always so much to do and never enough time to reflect in any kind of worthwhile manner, or at least in any sort of public way. Looking back now I know that it was partly a lapse in my own confidence, and partly just normal life and work getting in the way of my time to take blogging seriously. But I’m back after some real consideration as to why do it at all?

I have to admit that blogging holds a certain fascination for me, not just my experimenting with “daring” to post my own blogs, but learning to spend at least as much time reading and following other blogs. It is really a kind of special phenomenon; not unlike a magical kind of “putting a note in a bottle and throwing it into the sea”. I could be writing this and sending it out where anyone could read it but no one ever will. But the magic is that it just doesn’t happen that way with blogging. I throw out my note in a bottle but while I’m out at the oceanside, I pick up four or five others. I read those, find a few interesting ideas, people I want to connect with. I send them back their bottles and still others find them. Meanwhile I’m inspired to create more notes in more bottles of my own. The whole process creates a wonderful web of connections in a very new and exciting way.

Just this summer I heard the story of Allan November meeting Dave Truss for the first time. They got to talking when Allan realized that Dave was the author of the Pair-a-dimes blog, a blog Allan had already been following. And Dave of course, was similarly reading Allan’s blog. Without ever having met before, they were already connected and able to find ways to work together.

This ability to make connections through our writing and the ideas in our writing is very powerful. Consider it in the school context. Students can set up blogs and write on topics or issues that they are learning about. The blogs can be designed to protect the students identity but yet the site can still be in the public realm so that the students have an authentic audience.

Then add in Google Alerts and the possibility that students will draw in an audience of people who watch or follow their issues. So for example, if I set up a google alert for “Naomi Klein”, when a blogger somewhere in the world makes a reference to her, I receive an email. So I check out the blog and may be able to comment on that bloggers viewpoint regarding Naomi Klein. Or, by setting up a google alert for myself, likewise I can find reference that my students make to my comments or actions. Recently, for example, I found reference to Peter Scott’s blog through google alerts and so was able to add my thoughts to his blog regarding something I’d done and his field study work.  Powerful tools for powerful learning.

Rights not Wrongs conference, April 2008

I’ve just returned from a most amazing conference put on by the BC Federation of Labour and the BCTF. What was amazing was the collection of people, who are all so dedicated and informed, and some of the presenters. If only some of what they all know collectively could rub off on all of us.

Stephen Lewis spoke on Friday evening. It was the second time I’ve heard him speak but he was definitely equally as powerful. What was noticeably different was his tone because of the audience he was speaking too. He was clearly within his comfort zone. He knew he was speaking to an audience that respects him and agrees with him. In some ways for me this made his speech all the more passionate.

Two things really stood out for me this time from what he was saying. The first was a shift for me in how I see my own country. While I think I have grown up in Canada believing that I could be proud to be Canadian, it seems that we are losing that right. In the past decade we have lost ground in being a country at the forefront of working towards peace, social justice and sustainability. In fact our own Canadian Human Rights Commissioner, Louise Arbour, is stepping down perhaps because of our hypocrisy as a nation. We have scarred our record. Most recently we helped to prevent the passage of the UN convention on rights of indigenous peoples. We have undermined the Kyoto accord and are continuing to do so. This past week Canada refused to allow water to be inscribed as a human right. If I want to continue to be proud to be Canadian I need to be involved in politics. There is just no getting away from it. Marian Dodds quoted Rosemary Brown, “when I hear someone say they are not interested in politics, I know I am talking to a fool.” I certainly understand the truth in that now.

The second thing that stood out for me from Stephen Lewis’ talk was a re-emphasis of what I heard loud and clear the last time I heard him speak. As he says, “the never agains are endless,” yet we keep letting them happen. The G8 countries (Canada included) have failed to live up to the millenium goals for 2015 in three areas. We are no closer to achieving a goal of spending just 0.7% of our GNP to alleviate poverty. In fact poverty is getting worse. More than 1 billion people in our world live on less than $1/day. More than 3 billion on less than $750/year. And to that now we add the food crisis. Eygpt, Thailand, Yehman and Mexico are no longer getting enough food. As SL pointed out, these are not poor countries but middle income countries! Secondly, we have not reduced infant mortality. Over 10,000,000 children under age five die from preventable diseases each year. Thirdly, we have not made the significant gains that were set out with regards to women’s rights. He talked as one example of the worsening situation for women in the Congo. The UN has in its charter the responsibility to protect. This means that in the case where a country will not protect its citizens from violence the UN will intervene. While we have the responsibility to protect, this clause is not used. It is not used, for example again, in the Congo or in much of Africa because the violence is often only against women! His point, quite simply put, awareness is not enough.

Other powerful speakers presented throughout the two day conference. Gillian Creese, a UBC anthropology professor spoke on the topic of economic security as a human right. She used current statistics in BC and the lower mainland to make the point that our BC is violating human rights. Grand chief Ed John who spoke again of Canada’s lack of support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He provided details about the current situation in BC. (more on him and his impact on me in a separate blog post still to come). Dr. Emmanuel Rozental, a medical surgeon from Columbia, presented a most passionate talk on Canada’s role in the corporation take over. Dr. Rozental is heavily involved with the Columbia Workers’ Rights groups. He touched on free trade, multi national corporations, and indigenous rights. He moved the entire audience to tears. I won’t do him justice at all to paraphrase his words here, but I want to at least make note of a few and then follow up in a separate blog post that I am still working on about my growing respect, understanding and curiousity about our relationship to first nations rights in Canada. So a few of the more powerful quotes from Dr. Rozental:

“When we look at the past and it was bad, and we look at today and it is worse, and we look to the future and we know it will be even worse, then we cannot reconcile the past and say we are sorry.”

“Canada has been hijacked by a few transnational companies.” and “On cannot change what one does not understand. We need to understand the global nature of capital.” “Harper says that we cannot sacrifice the economy for the ecology.” “They (the capitalists) have a memory to act from. We don’t. …. We cannot continue to base our action only on resistance….In the process of resisting we must plan our own position.” He claims that the capitalist governments rely on three strategies: propaganda, legal policy (free trade agreements and structural reform) and terror. In Columbia over 4 million people have been murdered and displaced. He would like to see us stop free trade between Canada and Columbia. Stop the SPP agreeement and act on mining to protect the health and health care of his people. To end, “words without action are meaningless. Action without words are blind. Action and words outside of the spirit of community are death.”

Next I went to hear a young and very intelligent woman, Dawn Paley, present on mining. By now, as those of you who know me well, will understand, my mind was working overtime. Dawn is an independent researcher who should definitely be supported. She filled us in a little on the acitivities of a company called Gold Corp, which is the 2nd biggest gold mining company in the world. Our teacher and CPP pension money, by the way, supports Gold Corp and by the end of Dawn’s presentation I was more than a little uncomfortable with that knowledge. The environmental damage, the lack of respect for the health and well being of whole communities, and the general lack of ethic care involved in mining in Latin America and even here in Canada is truly appalling. But not to worry though. The only condition for money held in CPP is profitability and believe me, Gold Corp, even with its lack of accountability to its share holders, thanks to some creative off shore money management strategies such as chains of companies held in the Cayman Islands, appears to be an excellent investment for our money. We will have a solid pension if our lack of environmental protection laws internationally are allowed to continue unchecked! (Oh and by the way, Canada’ lack of support at the UN for indigenous peoples rights and the basic human right to water started to be more clear to me in this session.)

To round off the day I went to hear Murray Dobbin speak on Privatization and Human Rights. We was talking specifically about the notion of public private partnerships (P3). More on this to follow.

Welcome to my blog site.

January 18, 2008

While I have been blogging for several years, much of what I’ve written is on LiveJournal. I’ve only recently decided to search out a blog site that allows me to categorize my writing a little more to better fit with my professional life as an educator. Why do I write? Mostly I started writing for myself and probably that is still the primary reason why I still write. I’m a big believer in reflective practice, self-directed learning and teacher inquiry; therefore writing is a tool of the trade. Much of what I teach is about, or related to, technology and so a blog is my preferred tablet.

Previous blogs can be found at